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The mission of Help.NGO’s Disaster Immediate Response Team (DIRT) is to fill the void that exists between the time of a disaster occurrence and that of the traditional response effort. The international non-governmental organization has operated based on this premise since its creation in 2010. Originally formed as it’s own entity named Global DIRT, it is now a team operated by Help.NGO and utilizes the Special Force’s small unit leadership model, combining its all-volunteer force of first responders, subject matter experts, and prior service military personnel to respond within the first 24-48 hours of a disaster. Volunteers provide medical assistance, communications access, search and rescue capabilities, and coordination support. Help.NGO’s DIRT is able to insert into a disaster or post-disaster situation with key equipment and knowledge, thus limiting the loss of life, property, and resources, all while operating efficiently to ensure that every donor dollar contributes to mission success.
DIRT responds to short term emergencies and the long term ramifications of disasters. Since 2010, the organization has responded to a variety of emergencies around the world, ranging from flooding to Emergency Medical Services development to radiation monitoring in countries such as Haiti, Pakistan, New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Nepal, the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, and the United States. The team has utilized the latest technologies such as GATR satellite terminals, Life Giving Force mobile filters, Noah Water Systems UV potable water treatment system, FLIR thermal imaging cameras, and Immersive Media equipment in its missions. The positioning of this equipment has providing critical life-saving support to survivors.
DIRT’s response module is composed of four elements: Reconnaissance, Medical, Communications, and Urban Search and Rescue (USAR).
The DIRT Reconnaissance Team is responsible for ground coordination, developing an operational picture, mapping, and logistics support immediately after a disaster occurs. The team utilizes 360 degree GIS cameras, coordination tools from the Communications Team, and specialized monitoring equipment to support most recovery efforts. When not deployed, the Reconnaissance Team conducts planning operations for various state and federal government agencies. The team also cross-trains with other DIRT teams in preparation for future deployments.
The Medical Team is responsible for the safety of deploying team members as well as the provision of medical support to disaster survivors as needed. The team is currently developing solutions for rapidly deployable inflatable hospitals as well as kits to convert traditional vehicles into ambulances for emergency patient transport. When not deployed, the medical team researches new and innovative ways to provide patient care in emergencies. It also concentrates efforts on the continuing medical operation in the third world.
The Communications Team is responsible for creating and maintaining field communications for operationally deployed members, partner agencies, and survivors. The team employs inflatable satellite terminals, satellite phones, mobile cellular towers, and high frequency equipment. They are also responsible for managing web-based application tools that operate on cell phones and tablets to allow rescuers and survivors to access critical information, resources, and collection tools. While not deployed, the team develops new technology solutions for coordination, mapping, communication, and information broadcasting in future disasters.
The Urban Search and Rescue Team is responsible for managing the deployment of K-9 assets, conducting rescue operations, and deploying mapping tools from the Communications team to aid in USAR coordination. While not deployed, the USAR team will conduct ongoing training while working at fire and emergency medical agencies across the United States.
Help.NGO has ongoing operations around the world and is committed to ensuring the health and welfare of survivors long after incidents occur. The team transitions the operation management to a larger or local NGO or Government Organization, completes the specific mission for which deployed, or develops a sustainable solution.